Kazan, Russia, will be setting of the World Swimming Championships from 24th July-9th August. International swimming stars will do battle in the pool and the audience will go mad up in the stands, presumably helping spread the fame of this metropolis. At the moment not very much is known about Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, located at the confluence of the rivers Volga and Kazanka in central European Russia. With a population of just over one million, it is the second biggest city in the nation.
The event being held in August is expected to attract big audiences, not to mention all the spectators who will come to follow the World Masters Championships that will begin on 19th August. Swimming races and synchronised swimming, appearing for the first time in the history of the FINA World Championships, will be held at Kazan Arena Stadium, where two swimming pools will be installed, one for the actual races and the other for warming up and cooling down. The Aquatic Palace, a modern facility already used for the 2013 World University Games, will host the water polo and diving, while the open water long-distance swimming will be held in Kazanka River.
Now we know that Kazan will be crowded with swimmers and ‘the likes’ in July and August, but this gem of a city, which has so much more to offer, still is not very well known. Considered by most people to be “the third capital of Russia” after Moscow and St. Petersburg, Kazan celebrated the 1000th anniversary of its founding in 2005 and to mark the occasion implemented plenty of improvements, so that it is now beginning to attract tourists from all over the world. Among its landmarks that really deserve to be seen are the Kremlin, listed as part of UNESCO’s World Heritage in 2000 and full of striking towers and churches; Kremlevskaja Underground Railway Station (the interiors are a genuine work of art); the imposing Ministry of Agriculture and, for people interested in history, the university where Vladimir Lenin studied.
Dining and after-dinner events can be an extremely tasty experience, full of folklore, with Soviet dancing and typical local dishes. One such delicacy that it is definitely worth tasting is traditional tartare, which, as well as being a flavoursome main course, also has its own special historical background worth remembering: Mongolian warriors used to place meat under their saddles so that it would hang while they were riding. After all, even if you are visiting Kazan as swimming fans, taking a trip into the past is never a bad idea.